Congress Passes Spending Bill Limiting Appropriations For Refugee Children

Last month Congress included – as part of a continuing resolution to extend funding for the federal government – measures aimed at addressing the presence of children from the countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala where persistent violence persuaded parents there to send their kids on a dangerous and grueling trek through Central America and Mexico to the southern border of the United States.  But the solutions sought by the Obama administration to bolster the court process by which each refugee’s immigration case may be handled and to appropriate funds for revamping that process were deemphasized in favor of greater focus on border security.

Congress’ spending bill ignored the Obama administration’s request to accelerate spending on immigration courts to handle the flood of unaccompanied minors at the border — while it boosted spending flexibility for Border Patrol agents and detention centers.  It rejected the goal of adding more immigration judges to hear their cases, and lawyers to represent the youths which the White House had established for any effort to deal with the influx of children from Central America. Instead the legislation seeks to enhance spending flexibility to pay for more Border Patrol agents and detention centers.

“The resolution includes only funding for the prison staffing and no accelerated spending for the judges who hear their legal claims,” said Michelle Brané, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “House Republicans, believing these women should be returned immediately to often violent situations in their home countries, determined that judges aren’t as important as prison guards.”

Although the number of refugees coming from these Central American countries has subsided in the last couple of months, the failure to approve new funds for at least temporary immigration courts will cause greater congestion among existing tribunals tasked with hearing the cases of these refugees. The existing courts will face larger case loads and may be compelled to delay decisions in many of the cases where these children face removal from the country.

The Shulman Law Group handles cases involving refugees who fear persecution or violence if they were required to return to their home countries.  Edward Shulman, Esq, founder of The Shulman Law Group, LLC is a national speaker for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).  AILA is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, and to advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice.  In the course of Mr. Shulman’s involvement with AILA, he has been dedicated to educating other immigration attorneys about the import of helping intending immigrants to navigate a new cultural system. He meticulously follows all of the developments concerning the minors who have migrated from Central America so that he will be prepared to effectively assist his clients obtain residency if a new system is enacted.